Farmers and Ranchers have until February 27 to apply for funding this year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through its Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
J.R. Flores, state conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), says CSP, which is administered by NRCS, helps private landowners and NRCS broaden the protection of natural resources on Missouri farms and ranches.
“CSP is a way of motivating farmers, ranchers, and private forest managers who maintain a high level of conservation on their land to adopt higher levels of stewardship,” Flores said. “By focusing on multiple resource concerns, farmers and ranchers are able to achieve a sustainable landscape while increasing the productivity of their operations.”
Through CSP, participants take additional conservation steps to improve soil health, air quality, wildlife habitat, and water quality and quantity. It also encourages them to conserve energy.
Flores said CSP producers are conservation leaders who show how science-based conservation and technological advancements can improve the environment and farming operations at the same time.
The 2014 Farm Bill brought changes to CSP including an expanded conservation activity list that will offer participants greater options to meet their conservation needs and protect the natural resources on their land. These enhancements, include cover crops, intensive rotational grazing, and planting wildlife-friendly and pollinator friendly habitat.
Applications should be submitted to local NRCS offices. As part of the CSP application process, applicants will work with NRCS field personnel to complete a resource inventory of their land, which will help determine the conservation performance for existing and new conservation activities. The applicant's conservation performance will be used to determine eligibility, ranking and payments.
A CSP self-screening checklist is available through the NRCS website to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.
For more information, contact a local NRCS office or visit the Missouri NRCS website: www.mo.nrcs.usda.gov.